Watering a dead plant.


Today, I reached a conclusion in my modelling activities following a frustrating attempt to replace a motor on a part-built kit chassis. It finally dawned on me that I was no longer getting anything like the enjoyment I once did from the hobby. I considered the various themes in my collection, postwar BR, 1970s industrial, Scottish Pre-group and 1980s Scotrail.

All are of interest, but the postwar era and industrial and some of the pre-group was to EM. Since I moved to EM in 2013, I had acquired much new good quality RTR that would be needing conversion to EM – a fact I found increasingly daunting, given the good running qualities and the finesse of much new output. Given some of the problems and potential difficulties in conversion I was struggling to get motivated. You only have to look at the finite clearances on Hornby’s recent Peckett W6 saddle tank to see the potential difficulties. Clearly it would be a very similar situation with the new 14″ Barclay keenly awaited from Hattons. I looked to the rather lovely Heljan Class 05 shunter in my display case with its excellent running and jackshaft cranks and had to admit that the likelihood of my getting comparable running qualities from it post conversion were as likely as BBC Scotland rediscovering professional journalism. And of course, in what hints at being a vintage year for those who model Scotland, an NB ‘C’/ (LNER J36) 0-6-0 has just been announced and there’s a strong possibilty that the long-spoken-of Dapol NBL Type 2 may finally appear within this solar traverse.

It all means a bigger pile of models to convert and when even the otherwise excellent Bachmann Porthole and Thompson coaches require complete bogie replacement for EM it is increasingly obvious that the Law of Diminishing Returns is increasingly applying in my sphere of modelling. The process of converting stock begins to overshadow everything, draining energy and distracting from the acquisition of other skills and wider enjoyment of my modelling. And of course there were the wheels themselves; you have a choice of user friendly but chunky Markits, Gibsons with finesse but fragility and occasional QC issues and frankly the worst crankpins ever made and finally, the admittedly excellent Ultrascale with an attendant six-month wait.

I would require the ability to re-generate like a Timelord were I to stand any chance of doing all this. Additionally, factors involving track came into play with the advent of high quality bullhead pointwork from Peco

Once the conclusion was reached that five years of toil had delivered precisely hee haw*, the final decision was easy; I am abandoning EM and returning to OO. That OO Finescale can be made to look as good as the more prototypical gauge widths is conclusively demonstrated by my own ScRSG’s Alloa layout. The moment I made that decision was a liberating one and I can already feel enthusiasm returning. Most of the converted rolling stock can be returned to OO by simply re-setting the back to back on the wheelsets. Some converted RTR can readily be put back to OO with replacement parts from the manufacturers.
All this will free up time again to do the kind of modelling activities where my true talents really lie.

As a much valued friend put it today when I was having a rant via text;

“James Watt didn’t paint the Mona Lisa.
Cuneo didn’t design the Forth Railway Bridge.
Leonardo da Vinci was just a freak!”

Aye, play to your strengths is the message and that’s what I’m going back to now so watch out; this blog will be getting noticeably busier in the coming weeks.

And if you are feeling all Calvinist and nailing your colours firmly to the EM mast there will be lots of Gibson, Penbits and Brassmasters goodies up for sale shortly too!

Finally; you know that I often like to add a musical footnote to my posts and this week I’ve obtained two CDs that have immediately really etched themselves into my consciousness, having hardly been off the player all week.

The first is Four Tet’s New Energy (appropriately, given the nature of this post!)
The posted track is ‘Two thousand and seventeen’. It’s a track that seems well suited to night driving and in fact I first heard it on 6Music’s playlist back in September, resulting in it becoming a bit of an earworm during a week of late shifts driving a near empty bus through Carlisle’s darkened streets!

The second is Ride’s Weather Diaries. Ride were around in the 1990s but largely escaped my attention though on the strength of this album I’m tempted to investigate their back catalogue. The posted track, ‘Pulsar, doesn’t in fact appear on the album but it’s a worthy statement of intent for the album’s content.

I recommend both Albums.
Four Tet – New Energy on Text Records TEXT046
Ride – Weather Diaries on Wichita Recordings WEBB510CD



*’Hee Haw – Rhyming slang; a polite Scottish euphemism for ‘f*** all’…


11 responses to “Watering a dead plant.”

  1. Now if you want to free up that C16 Kit Dave, I’m your man! 🙂

  2. Hi Dave.
    Your EM modelling at least seems to have got a bit further than my attempts – just a few kit built wagons so far! I’m sure you’ll still be welcome at the local EM group meetings, plenty to learn about regardless of actual track gauge. Must try and get along to a few more meetings this year myself!


  3. Thanks boys.
    I intend to get to more of the meetings, John, seeing as I work part time again and have more Sundays free again. I just need a car to get there but I’m working on that! 🙂

  4. Lured to the dark side of ready to run 😀as you say you know your strengths and the variety of models now being produced in 4mm was unimaginable a few years ago. Good luck!

  5. Sounds like a plan to me, I went US HO to get the track/train balance right without much messing about I have built one inglenook type shunting puzzle DCC even and will be progressing to a 13 foot by 20 inch wide layout as soon as I am healthy enough to lift the boards. Mick

  6. The utter joy of buying a really good model, plonking it on the track and watching it run, there is more to modelling than the endless task of upgrading.

  7. Hi Dave, you have a sympathiser right here. I have gone full circle, for after completing a small P4 layout and laying the track on a much longer P4 layout, the thought of building all the stock, little of which was available even as kits, effectively stopped me. I have gone over and over, asking the same question – what is it that I really want to model. The answer is that while I get the charm of the rural branchline, what I really want is a mainline based around a signal box.

    My mantra just now is “The project will determine the scale/gauge I’m working in”. So rather than introducing oneself as an EM modeller, a P4 modeller, or an 0 Gauge modeller, I am convinced that I get more produced if I introduce myself as “building a model of _______ in ____ scale.”

    I have surrounding me, at my desk, at the moment, 7 A3’s, 3 A1’s (of the Peppercorn variety) and 2 A2’s (of the same ilk). Quite simply the prospect of having to re-wheel these would prevent the project I want to build. I am no longer prepared to have that barrier put in front of me. If the Jesuits don’t like that – then tough, they can excommunicate me and I will retire to my attic and play with my trains.

    All the best


  8. Dave your allways welcome at Your Local club when we get back in the clubroom after repairs by Network fail sorry should be Rail

    1. Dave, I too have been watering a number of dead plants. In fact I was collecting dead plants in increasing numbers in the hope that just one of them would burst into life and somehow magically bare fruit. What I found was, that for me at least, there was a seed that had been lying dormant for many years. It was planted very deep and took a lot of work, but it has been worthwhile.
      I have been scratch building O Gauge pre-grouping wagons and have been really enjoying the change. It has stopped me buying more and more “stuff” to try and satisfy my various schemes and has instead seen me buying plasticard and Evergreen strip, hacking them about and building a little collection of work that is really mine.
      I have found the change of pace very satisfying and it comes highly recommended.

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